So I just finished watching the most recent Avengers movie, and I’m clearing out of the theater like everyone else at the end. I’m making my way down the corridor towards the exit, thinking about the ending and how well the story was crafted and going over what I just learned about the DC Universe. When I feel something small and fast blast past me on the right, nearly spun me all the way around. It seems like the spirit of Ironman has possessed this 6-year old’s body and I was apparently in the way. I remember that feeling after watching kung fu flicks; you couldn’t tell me I couldn’t avenge my father and restore honor to my family with the moves I just acquired. Seeing superheroes do their thing seems to awaken that in all of us. We forget our mortal limitations and start to identify with the impossible.
It seems like that tendency to worship superhuman abilities hasn’t quite left me. Instead of wrapping a towel around my neck and running around my apartment in my underwear pretending I’m flying. These days I find myself looking at a small collection of entrepreneurs who seem to be able to leap a tall building in a single bound while effortlessly balancing their books. They appear to have no trouble keeping their business world spinning with one hand while raising a glass of their favorite wine on a night out with friends in the other. If you watch them long enough, it looks like they always have something on all four burners, while prepping the next course and you’re still digesting the what they just put in front of you.
Myleik Teele founder of CurlBox, a company that lets you sample hair products. Young (my age), black and driven. Podcasting, event speaking, snap-chatting, constant traveling, Tesla driving, healthy dinner cooking super-shero with a large social media following. She often speaks candidly about her business mindset highlighting the need to set goals and hold yourself accountable on the way to achieving them. It’s interesting watching from the outside. She seems to have interviews, photo shoots, business meetings, speaking engagements and a social life at a pace that would have most people’s head spinning. You can tell by the way she speaks that she’s ruthless with her time and attention in a way that most aren’t willing to be.
Tim Ferriss (author and investor) known for employing counterintuitive thinking in all aspects of his life and business to maintain high levels of productivity. He seems to question everything without being paralyzed by all the possible paths that lay ahead of him.
When I think about their age and their accomplishments, I feel like a tourist visiting New York City for the first time, stepping out of the train station to see these building blotting out the sun, towering over you. I have lofty dreams too, but I’m worried more about the fundamental personality difference between these superhuman entrepreneurs and me. They all are obviously Type-A personalities, relentlessly laying brick after brick until the only way to see them is to look up from the cold concrete street. They are tough on employees and even friends, but even more so on themselves. Careful with the time they spend. The thought of achieving their next goal gets them out of bed early, forces them to have difficult conversations, stick to their self-imposed plans and find a way through most of their adversities.
This is the part of the story that’s hidden from Type-B mortals like myself. There must be something different with their brain structure, a genetic mutation that gives them little choice in their behavior. Why don’t these people like to sleep late and watch Netflix marathons like normal humans? What does that mean for the non-mutant Type-B personality? I discussed this with my friend Tie recently. Because of her, I finally heard someone else verbalize a thought I’d been feeling for quite some time now. “Do I have to change who I am to be that successful?”
It’s a real consideration. Name at least one person you know of that’s very successful and at the same time has a laid back attitude? Based on how I currently behave, it doesn’t seem like my ambitions stand a chance against my lack of drive. I know I’m not alone. You can see yourself at the top of the mountain, but can’t visualize yourself climbing it. That, coupled with fear of failing along the way, keeps you firmly planted at the base of the mountain looking up.
So…how do you succeed if your natural tendency is to sleep in on Saturday mornings? How do you overcome the urge to get lost in the social media maze when you know you have an article to finish or a set of images to complete? It worried me that the solution might be out of my control until I took a closer look at what I had been able to accomplish so far.
I’m 37, and so far I’ve taught myself, network engineering, software development in more than five languages, the art of photography and editing just to name a few things. I don’t list these things to brag; it’s just that I hadn’t quite considered the amount of discipline and focus I’d put into each of these talents to become proficient at them. Thinking back over the past decade, I would spend months working on projects with any spare time I had. Going clear into the early morning without thinking twice about it. What these projects all had in common (besides being technical in nature) is that, for me, they were inherently challenging.
That’s the key! When I reframe the work I’m tasked to do as a challenge I become a machine. A new type of Brian. Type-B or not, I see each task as a part of a challenge. From contacting people to write for their blog, reaching out to people to collaborate with me on projects, developing and sticking to a writing schedule to setting a readership goal for the month. I’m not trying to change who I am. Instead, I’m working with my nature to stay passionate and engaged. Here’s are a couple examples:
Personal Motivation: Setting a technical goal and achieving it.
Original Problem: No one is visiting my blog
Reframed Problem: Set a goal to get 100 readers of my next article.
Possible Approach: Read up on how to what gets people to share and click on shared articles on Facebook and test it out.
Personal Motivation: Getting positive feedback from someone you’ve helped
Original Problem: Getting through writing your first self-help book
Reframed Problem: Not getting fast enough feedback to motivate you to the next step.
Possible Approach: Select a few people from your target audience and share each finished chapter with them.
Hopefully, this helps to put things into perspective. I’m beginning to believe that we all have personal motivations and the people we see wearing capes and saving busloads of orphans are just staying true to what motivates them. As with most problems you have to start with analyzing yourself to get a clear inventory of your strengths and weaknesses. This, in essence, is you discovering your own superpower.